Arizona looked to be the oasis the Islanders offense needed. Instead, they left the desert thirsty.
The Islanders were shut out by the Arizona Coyotes 1-0 on Saturday night at Gila River Arena, extending a three-game losing streak, while simultaneously snapping a three-game winning streak vs. the Coyotes. Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored the game’s only goal, while rookie Louis Domingue picked up his first-career NHL shutout.
“You just understand it’s a long season,” Thomas Hickey said. “There’ll be times where you are doing really well and things are going your way and there’s times where they are not. I don’t want to say we’re in a funk or a lull, but it’s not coming easy right now.”
Saturday’s game felt like a missed opportunity, as the Coyotes – who had allowed over four goals per game in December – were starting their third-string goalie in Domingue. The Islanders finished the game with 25 shots.
“Tonight I didn’t think it was there for 60 minutes,” Ryan Strome said. “We have to try to find a way to score goals. These guys have struggled defensively the last few games and we couldn’t crack them. It’s frustrating.”
The Coyotes’ blueline had scored the fourth-most goals in the NHL heading into Saturday, so it was fitting that a defenseman opened the scoring in the first period. The Coyotes’ defenseman posted up in the slot and one-timed a pass from Anthony Duclair past Jaroslav Halak at 17:59. That was it for the offense.
“I thought the Coyotes played really well,” Hickey said crediting their disciplined play with a one-goal lead. “Their goalie was terrific. He played great and made a lot of big saves. Credit to him.”
The Islanders’ penalty kill finished the game 2-for-2, staying perfect for a team-record-tying 12th straight contest (28-for-28 over that span). The PK also had some of the Islanders’ best chances, including a shorthanded breakaway for Casey Cizikas, who was denied by Domingue’s pad.
With Kyle Okposo out with a lower-body injury, the Islanders had a new-look top line of John Tavares, Anders Lee and Josh Bailey. The line generated some chances in the second period, both off the rush and in front of the net, but again couldn’t solve Domingue.
“They had the one shift in the second period where they could have one, maybe two, but we have to find a way for our top players to perform at a level that is going to help us win,” Jack Capuano said.
Halak was not to be outdone at the other end, making 28 saves in the loss, including some key stops during a Coyotes push early in the third to keep the game at 1-0.
The Islanders’ best chance to tie the game came midway through the third, with Ekman-Larsson in the box for elbowing Tavares. Capuano called his timeout with 8:45 to play to give Tavares time to shake off the elbow, but the Islanders could not convert on the power play.
The Islanders will spend the night in Glendale before flying back to Brooklyn on Sunday. The Anaheim Ducks await the Islanders, as the teams face off on Monday night at Barclays Center.